South Bend, Indiana

The city of South Bend derives its name from its location on the southernmost bend of the St. Joseph River. The river flows from the east end, turns north near the city center and flows into Lake Michigan.

The fourth largest city in Indiana, South Bend is the county seat of St. Joseph County. It is also the cultural and economic center of Michiana Region, which comprises of Northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan.

Learn the role played by the proximity of Lake Michigan and how it affects temperatures all through the year. Also know the best time to be in South Bend to get the most of what the city has to offer. We also discuss the factors that were instrumental in the dramatic transformation of South Bend into an industrial center.

Take a stroll along the sidewalks that feature the works of local artists, experience a tour on a horse drawn carriage or be a part of East Race Waterway, the first artificial white water course in North America.

South Bend is a great place to live in. The city also has a bustling nightlife, various places to eat, places to see and can also offer you a great shopping experience. The city is known for its ambient social atmosphere and its lively residents.

South Bend History

The first settlements in South Blend were fur trading posts. In 1820, a representative of American Fur Company settled near what is now known as downtown. Another agent of the same company returned with his family and made South Bend his home in 1824. By 1827, a representative of another fur company, Samuel Hanna and Company established another post in the area.

These posts were originally known as Big St. Joseph Station and St. Joseph's, Indiana. Later, in 1829, as the town grew an application was made for a post office. The area was then known as Southold, Allen County, Indiana. To avoid confusion, as there are many other communities known as Southold, the name was later changed to South Bend in 1830. The very next year, South Bend was set up as a county seat and is one of the four original townships of St. Joseph County. In 1865, South Bend was declared a city and its first elections as a city were held.

South Bend developed as an industrial complex and much of its development from the late 1830s to 1850 is attributed to river access, which is also the reason why most mills were built on either side of the river. The focus shifted from the river to rail tracks when the first locomotive entered the town on October 4, 1851. While Studebaker set up shop in the mid-19th century, by the mid-20th century manufacturing became the driving force behind South Bend's economy with the arrival of Oliver Chilled Plow Works and Singer Sewing Company.

Another factor that contributed to the development of South Bend was its location on the Michigan Road, one of the earliest roads in Indiana and the main north-south arterial road of north Indiana. Another significant development that eventually had a major impact on the area's economy and culture was the establishment of the University of Notre Dame, to the north of the town.

As other large corporations kept coming to South Bend, the city continued to develop as an industrial center and by 1950 more than fifty percent of all employment was in the manufacturing sector. However, with Studebaker closing down in 1963 followed by a general decline in manufacturing, its share in the city's economy dropped to 16 percent.

About South Bend, Indiana

The fourth largest city in Indiana, South Bend is located on the river St. Joseph and less than 100 miles east of Chicago. Early development of South Bend has largely been due to the fact of it being located on the River St. Joseph.

Studebaker and later other big corporations like Oliver Chilled Plow Works have played an important role in the economy and transformation of South Bend from a settlement of fur traders to a major industrial center. During the height of manufacturing activity in South Bend, its population rose to 132,445 in the 1960 census. However, after 1963 the city experienced a steady decline in population after manufacturing units closed down due to economic difficulties. In the 2010 census, the city's populating stood at 101,168.

Presently, the University of Notre Dame is the biggest employer. The basketball games of the Fighting Irish, the varsity sports team of the University of Notre Dame, are also a big event for the city. The College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend honors some of the greatest players ever to play in college football and also preserves the memories of great teams, coaches, administrators and games. The South Bend Silver Hawks is a Class A minor baseball team.

South Bend is also home to the Potawatomi Zoo, the oldest in Indiana. Spread over 23 acres, the zoo opened in 1902 and houses over 400 animals. There are also over 50 parks, golf courses and recreational areas in South Bend, all run by the city's Parks and Recreation department, which also runs the Potawatomi zoo.

The South Bend Museum of Arts, opened in 1996, features a variety of artists from South and the surrounding regions. The Studebaker National Museum showcases the 150 year history of the Studebaker Company and has a collection of wagons and automobiles manufactured by the company. The collection includes presidential carriages of Lincoln, McKinley, Harrison and Grant.

Lake Michigan has a great impact on South Blend's climate, which moderates temperatures all through the year and is also responsible for the lake effect snow in winters. June to August is the warmest and spring and fall are normally mild and overcast but can also be severely stormy at times. Snow fall occurs from October to April and it is the heaviest in January.

About St. Joseph County, Indiana

St. Joseph County is located in Indiana and a part of the South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI, Metropolitan Statistical Area. Formed in 1830, it derives its name from St. Joseph River, which flows through it and into the Lake Michigan.

Ever since the county was formed, there has been a steady increase in its population varying from a high of 70% increase in 1850 to a low of 26.7% in 1950. In the 1980 census the county recorded a negative growth in population and only increased by 0.5% in 2010 census when a population of 266,931 was recorded.

The county seat is South Bend, which is also one of the original four cities of the county. The county has a total area of 460.97 square miles, most of which is land and only 3.63 square miles is water. To its north and northeast are two Michigan counties, the Berrien County and Cass County. On its east, south, southwest and west, St. Joseph County is surrounded by other Indiana counties, namely Elkhart, Marshall, Starke and LaPorte.

Most of the population of St. Joseph County comprises of whites (82.36%). The next in the racial mix are African American (11.46%) and balance comprises of Native American, Asian, Pacific Islanders and other races.

Life in St. Joseph County is convenient and its parks, bikes and pedestrian walkways, beaches, lakes and a host of cultural activities are easily accessible. The county is also a regional education center and home to eight colleges and universities. Most prominent among them being Notre Dame University, Purdue Ext., Bethel University, Indiana University - South Bend, Ivy Tech North Central and St. Mary's College.

Some of the other cities and towns in St. Joseph County include Roseland, Indian Village, New Carlisle, North Liberty and Walkerton. Centre, Clay, German, Union, Warren and Harris are some of the townships that deserve mention.